When Colorado Rockies owner Dick Monfort released the team’s budget to the Denver Post at the beginning of December, one of the items of note was the fact that Monfort was not willing to spend more money now in anticipation of Major League Baseball’s new television contract.
Monfort actually expressed skepticism that the teams might not be able to plan on TV money as soon as next season. Quotes from the Denver Post:
“We have been told (as owners), and I don’t know if it is scare tactics or not, that (each team) will pay that back this year. The way we are budgeting right now is that not only are we not getting that extra $4 million (like last season) but we will be paying back the $4 million from last year.”
So that’s a detail of the new league-wide deal that means the Rockies won’t be spending extra. If there does come a moment when they will have more money because of the deal, it will just be the same amount as any other team. The franchises who are coming out ahead are those like the Philadelphia Phillies, who recently signed a massive local TV deal with Comcast Sportsnet.
Unfortunately for the Rockies, their current deal with Root Sports runs through 2020. Troy Renck writes about why that’s a problem (via Sulia):
This doesn’t necessarily make the Phillies the Yankees, but it shows how the gap exists between the haves and have-nots in media money. Much has been made of the $54 million TV money for all teams this year. It roughly doubled the previous TV money. But it didn’t change the gap between the teams because all clubs received the same boost. The Rockies’ current TV deal expires in 2020… Bad timing for Rockies given the industry trend.”
This isn’t a new problem for the Rockies, though. Whether they inked a new TV deal in the next couple years or not, they still wouldn’t be able to spend with the big boys, certainly not to the point that the organizational philosophy would dramatically shift.
The key for the Rockies will continue to be player development and smart, efficient moves (two areas that have been sorely lacking in recent years). But as the Rays and others have proven, you can make up a lot of financial ground by overachieving in those areas.
That’s still the formula for Colorado, something that wasn’t going to change. The only thing that changes with these TV deals is that the gap is more pronounced.